By Christopher Hunt
COLUMBIA -- When Brett Squibbs cleared 16 feet, for the first time in his life, Saturday, he became the perfect protagonist in the type of storybook tale that only sports can produce.
Video: 'Doing everything my dad told me to do'
The South Pointe junior soared over the bar, floated down to the mat and covered laid her for a few seconds. He covered his face in with his hands – the only thing he could do to be alone that moment. To savor it. It meant so much more than a win or a personal best.
Squibbs vaulted without his father there. Bryan Squibbs was scheduled to officiate the pole vault at the Taco Bell Classic Saturday. But instead he took updates from his wife while he sat in a hospital bed, while his son had the best day of his athletic career at the biggest meet of the season.
Squibbs' father suffered a stroke Friday morning.
"The only thing I had in my mind is make him proud," Brett said. "I just kept my hopes up. I've been wanting to win Taco Bell forever." Squibbs is the youngest of four brothers, all vaulters. His father, a former vaulter himself, is also Brett's coach.
On Friday, still laying in bed, Bryan Squibbs had a stroke in the back of his head. Brett's mother Paula rushed into his room and told him that they would be taking his dad to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill.
Brett never considered skipping the meet. He even scored a new pair of sneakers before he got to Harry Parone Stadium and Spring Valley High School. He had already been enduring a rocky season where he hadn't cleared a height, in competition, over 14-6.
"My dad told me that it was OK," Squibbs said. "He said just save it for Taco Bell."
Squibbs didn't just blow over 14 feet, 6 inches. He easily popped over 15 feet. Then squeaked over 15 feet, 6 inches. At 16 feet, he moved up to a bigger pole. Squibbs decided that he would stay where he was comfortable – a pole sized at 15 feet, 170 pounds. But his grip was off and he was running out of time to make an attempt.
Squibbs considered securing his grip by re-taping the end of his pole with athletic tape. But the clock was ticking.
"What would your daddy say?" asked Bob Jenkins, a former South Pointe coach and two-time national Coach of the Year, who had also rushed to the hospital Friday when he heard Brett's father was admitted.
Squibbs rushed over and re-taped his pole.
His plant was off somehow. He couldn't tell what he did wrong. Something weird.
But the pole bent hard and Squibbs held on. It shot him straight up.
Straight up over 16 feet. The best height any of the Squibbs brothers had ever cleared. The one his daddy never saw. The same one that his dad would be undoubtedly most proud of.
"He passed every test they gave him," said Brett's mother, Paula Squibbs. "He's fine. He's coming home today."
Reach Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Christopher Hunt